Methodist Church

Methodists overflow with compassion for tsunami victims

METHODISTS have united with other Singaporeans in their compassion for victims of the Dec 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean and left more than 150,000 dead.

“At such a time like this, we are called to respond with love and compassion and think of the thousands of victims and the millions of people affected by this tragedy,” said Bishop Dr Robert Solomon.

Methodists are especially called to pray for the victims of the disaster and those in the relief operations. Church members attended a special Prayer Service of the National Council of Churches of Singapore on Jan 7, 2005, at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral.

At press time, a conservative estimate of financial collections from Methodist congregations in Singapore exceeds $500,000 in response to Bishop Dr Solomon’s appeal in an effort which will continue for some time, and includes efforts to collect and send badly-needed material supplies.

This is in addition to the immediate response of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) releasing $30,000 from emergency funds to be used by the Singapore Red Cross in co-ordinating disaster relief in those areas hardest hit.

The MCS is also collaborating with other agencies, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to provide important medical supplies for those affected in Aceh.

In addition, Methodists have responded in a number of other ways through Annual Conference appeals, Methodist Centre staff, Methodist schools and individual responses.

Two groups have travelled to some of the areas hardest hit by the disaster – the Disaster Relief Task Force of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) sent a team of five to Sri Lanka from Jan 2 to 11, headed by the Rev Juliette Arulrajah, an executive committee member of the Force, to conduct relief work, distribute food and other necessities, clear debris as well as to ascertain the needs of the local populace.

The team worked mostly with the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka because of its close proximity to local communities. A number of TRAC churches have also sent members into other hard-hit areas such as Phuket and Aceh.

Also, a Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) team went into West Sumatra on Jan 3 for medical relief work. Headed by Mr Han Hai Kwang, CAC Finance Chairman and a member of Grace Methodist Church, the team joined up with an Indonesian medical team to provide medical help specifically to the villages of Nias, an island west of Aceh. This mission is supported by many of the CAC churches.

It is clear that all 41 Methodist churches have responded in a number of ways to contribute their gifts and services to alleviate the suffering of the tsunami victims. They include special offerings taken at watchnight services and Sunday worship services, sending volunteers, and acting as collecting centres for clothes and supplies.

Tallies are not complete and many have not yet reported on their contributions, but at press time, Methodist Message is aware of the outpouring of compassion from many churches and schools.

■ Aldersgate Methodist Church called on its members to offer prayers, service, clothes and cash for the TRAC Disaster Relief Task Force.

■ Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church gave offerings from its New Year watchnight service and Jan 9 service, along with prayers for the relief work.
■ Covenant Community Methodist Church gave both financial support through two offerings and in-kind support by collecting clothes and needed supplies.

■ Jurong Tamil Methodist Church held a special prayer meeting and collected money.

■ Kum Yan Cantonese Methodist Church is fully supporting the Bishop’s appeal as well as the CAC Team to Nias through donations and prayer.

■Living Hope Methodist Church collected funds on behalf of Trinity Methodist Church in Penang, encouraged prayer, called for volunteers, sent off a member who is serving with the Ministry of Home Affairs team in Phuket, and collected clothes for Indonesia.